Ti’Esha Jones cleans her room regularly — not just for herself and her roommate’s benefit, but with the hopes that it will attract students to the University of South Dakota.
“Having the tours motivates me to keep (my room) clean, so it’s a win-win,” Jones, a first-year who lives in Coyote Village, said.
Residence Hall Director Tommy Rice said there are eight rooms on campus that are shown to potential students who come through on USD tours. If all goes well, the roommates could take away $400 together at the end of the semester for housing compensation, with a maximum credit of $200 per student, depending on circumstances.
Four first-floor rooms in Coyote Village and four rooms in Mickelson are occupied by students dedicated to the showing what a USD dorm can look like to visitors.
Jones admits there can be “small annoyances” in the setup, like the strange smells that seem to drift in with a tour or accidentally getting woken up from a nap, but being able to talk with potential students while in the room outweighs that.
“It’s really fun, and if you’re in the room when tour groups come in, you can actually talk to (potential) freshmen yourself, give them the rundown of things,” Jones said.
Sophomore Tessa Musil, another student with a Coyote Village showroom, agrees.
Musil said tours are occasionally talkative, and family members and students are able to ask questions or comment on things seen in the room.
“Some of the people giving the tours have never lived in Coyote, they’re just kind of saying their speech that they give, so it’s kind of nice to actually get a viewpoint from someone living there,” Musil said.
Each room picks one day of the week, Monday through Thursday, to be scheduled for tours on a regular basis after they show the interest in being a showroom, Rice said.
“We’ll keep an eye on the room, make sure they’re keeping up with (everything), make sure it’s clean, there’s nothing on the walls that would be questionable,” Rice said. “The best way I like to say it, is ‘Don’t decorate (with) anything that you wouldn’t want your parents to see.’ Otherwise, it’s just keeping up with them, talking with them, making sure they pay attention to the schedule so they know when it’s their room.”
When a showroom student is sick or needs to switch days, Musil said it is flexible to work with Rice and USD Admissions to adjust. The schedule also gets changed over weekends, Friday and Saturday, and on “special” days outlined by USD as busy tour days, such as scholarship days. Then all of the rooms could potentially be used to be viewed in the same day.
For Jones, these changes only give her more incentive to maintain a clean room.
“Every now and then when we have admitted students or certain holidays, we have to work weekends as well,” Jones said. “That’s not a problem though — more inspiration to keep our room clean.”
Rice said Admissions and Housing are looking to make some changes to the showroom system. A possible increase in compensation to gain more interest from students and bettering and maintaining good communication between the two departments are high on their working list.
“We’re trying to redo it a bit but I don’t know where we’re at with that yet,” Rice said. “It’s kind of hard to figure out ‘cause it’s between Admissions and Housing so we’ve gotta kind of talk with them, see what their needs are, and then we have to meet their needs.”
He has received 0pinions from current showroom students to see how they like or dislike the way things are set up now.
“It’s kind of an evolving process, and from semester to semester we keep reevaluating how we want to do it, what’s going to work best,” Rice said.
As of now, students do not receive credit in their accounts until the end of the semester, and if they missed a day, that percentage is calculated and an amount is deducted from their starting total.
Musil said she likes to keep her space pretty clean, so it is nice to have something for her roommate to be accountable for, too.
“It’s kind of nice, ‘cause we can just, like, pitch in more knowing that we have people come through,” Musil said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, you made that mess, you need to clean it up.’ It’s more like, ‘Oh, this is messy, we’re gonna do it together, ‘cause we have room tours.’”
(Photo: Sophomore Tessa Musil is one of four students with a Coyote Village showroom. Ally Krupinsky / The Volante)